This article was written by GreenBook’s head of event production, Emily Fullmer.
The art of getting ROI from your event sponsorship is a result of your strategy and execution. All sponsors and exhibitors should have one goal in common when it comes to their event strategy – to stand out. As an event sponsor or exhibitor, you’ll be surrounded by your competitors, so setting yourself apart (in a good way) should be a critical goal.
So how do you stand out in a literal sea of competitors? Based on my experience as an event manager, I’ve learned a few things that can make (or break) your impact as a sponsor or exhibitor.
Here are 6 ways to step up your sponsorship impact & stand out:
- Tailor your approach to the specific event
Every event in the insights industry is a little bit different, and clients are drawn to different events for different reasons. Think about the type of research buyer that you’re likely to see at the event you’re sponsoring, and tailor your sponsorship approach accordingly. For example, IIeX is focused exclusively on innovation in market research – attendees of our event are looking for what’s new in the insights industry and how they can leverage new methodologies and technologies. So if you were exhibiting at IIeX, this would be good information to keep in mind. You’d want to put all of your new products and innovation front and center, and make sure to send business development colleagues who have knowledge and interest in innovation.
- Be thoughtful
When it comes to conference “swag”, think quality over quantity. A personal touch can add value and make your gift more memorable to prospective clients. For example, a Moleskine notebook is not just a useful office item, but it’s also an opportunity to write a handwritten note on the first page. Before you get any swag or collateral printed, think about what would actually be useful to your prospects. Page after page of sales collateral? Probably not. An educational (non-salesy) white paper or mini-book? Much more likely to be read. Swag we’ve seen that’s been very popular include: notebooks, reusable water bottles, sturdy travel mugs, tech gadgets like phone cables or headphones, quality branded dark chocolate, etc.
- Create a positive space
Sitting behind your table or hiding behind a laptop screen creates an immediate wall between you and potential prospects. Think about making your space a place where someone wants to sit, stay and converse. Simple tweaks can go a long way – swapping the table for a coffee table or a couch instead of chairs. Your “exhibit area” should invite people to join you. And when they do, have a conversation and learn something about them before launching into an immediate sales pitch.
- Be interesting (and not salesy) on stage
A powerful way to make an impression at an event is through your speaking opportunity. Delivering a sales pitch is often one of the most destructive ways to go about an event presentation. Focus on telling a story that speaks to how and why your company can add value to someone else’s work. Do everything in your power to make you interesting, not just what you’re selling.Keep in mind that simplicity can speak volumes. A few guidelines you can adopt right away: use high quality images as singular slides, remove bullet points, avoid more than 20 words per slide, and aim for about 1-2 slides per minute of stage time.
- Disconnect from your devices
This one should be easy. You can’t connect with the people and prospects around you until you disconnect from your devices. If you’re sending business development staff to an event, be sure you set clear expectations that they should be focused on present conversations rather than staying connected to the office back home.
- Be in touch before and after the event (carefully!)
It’s definitely a good idea to try to set up meetings with your clients and prospects in advance of the event. But tread carefully – we hear from our client partners that many of them receive sometimes HUNDREDS of pre- and post- event emails. Make sure that when you reach out to clients and prospects in advance that you customize and personalize it as much as possible – and make sure it looks like an email from you, not a piece of marketing.
Looking for some other advice on making the most of your exhibit opportunity? Here are a couple of other articles written by MR pros that you might enjoy:
- ON PREPARATION: Come prepared, dress the part, and follow up: 10 Do’s for exhibiting at MR trade shows (by Steve Henke of Harpeth Marketing)
- ON SWAG: Hey buddy, can you spare a comb? (by Annie Pettit, Research Methodologist)